DreamWorks a creditor of bankrupt Ariz. studio

Over 30 companies owed money from Albuquerque Studios

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- More than 30 New Mexico businesses and some prominent Hollywood companies are owed tens of thousands of dollars by Albuquerque Studios, according to Chapter 11 bankruptcy documents filed this week by the studios' owners.

According to a copyright story Thursday in the Albuquerque Journal, the company claims debts of nearly $105 million on the studios, which cost about $90 million to build.

The debts range from $16 owed to a sign-design company to $30,000 for a catering company. It owes Bernalillo County more than $300,000 and the state more than $11,000. From Hollywood, DreamWorks SKG is owed $75,000.

Pacifica Mesa, which owns and operates Albuquerque Studios, filed for the business reorganization Tuesday in Los Angeles, days before a scheduled foreclosure auction Friday in Albuquerque.

"This is a combination of the recessionary time that we are in and a construction loan that came due," Pacifica Mesa CEO Hal Katersky said. "It's very difficult to find permanent financing in this economy."

Films have not flocked to Albuquerque Studios recently, as they did a few years ago when "Terminator Salvation," "The Spirit" and "Book of Eli" were shot there. The complex has 168,000 square feet of studios on Albuquerque's southern boundary.

Katersky said business will continue with no interruptions. A remake of the 1980s horror movie "Fright Night" is filming now, and Katersky said the company is hoping to see more films move into the empty studios soon.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows the company to operate as usual but freezes collection attempts while a firm figures a way out of debt.

The largest debts are Pacifica Mesa's two loans on the property: an $80 million loan by Amalgamated Bank of New York and a second for more than $23 million from Workers Realty Trust.

Albuquerque attorney Louis Puccini Jr., who represents Workers Realty, said with penalties and interest, Pacifica owes nearly $24 million.

Katersky said Pacifica is seeking additional financing from Amalgamated Bank.

"We're working very closely with Amalgamated," Katersky said. "Workers (Realty) has not collaborated with this process. If they had, we wouldn't have had to do the filings."

Eric Witt, the governor's director of Media Arts and Industries, said it's important that Albuquerque Studios doesn't interrupt its production schedule.

"That's our main concern," he said. "Obviously, we hope they get their finances in order right away."